Monday, October 29, 2012

26 Nuclear Plants In Predicted Path Of Hurricane Sandy

Source Fairwinds Energy Education Podcast Here is a summary of two important topics discussed in the October 28, 2012 podcast by Fairewinds Energy Education:

    Hurricane Sandy poses a threat to 26 nuclear reactor sites
  • the Nuclear Plants can withstand relatively high winds
  • storm surge will not likely do much damage to the nuclear power plants themselves
  • but some plants will likely suffer loss of off-site power (as happened at Fukushima)
  • at that point, the plant will automatically "scram", control rods will go into the cooling pool real quickly and the nuclear chain reaction will stop
  • when the power transmission lines are lost, the nuclear power plant needs to reduce power production quickly
  • with loss of off-site power, diesel generators must turn on in order to provide the power needed to cool the fue pools
  • some plants have 2 diesel generators and some plants have 3 diesel generators
  • as the Nuclear plant operates, it requires off-site power to operate the pumps
  • when a nuclear power plant shuts down, as much as 5% of the decay heat remains
  • diesel generators are required to keep the plant cool
  • we have to hope that those diesel generators operate when needed, because that is the last line of defense against meltdown
  • when a plant "scrams" that's a sudden shutdown and a severe jolt to the system
  • it would be better if operators shutdown the plant ahead of time
  • there are 26 nuclear power plants in the area where Hurricane Sandy is likely to hit
  • nuclear reactors are not designed to cool the spent fuel pools from the diesel generators
  • so, the design of most nuclear plants requires that off-site power be restored quickly in order to keep the spent fuel pools cool
  • if the spent fuel pools heat up, tremendous humidity is generated
  • the fuel pool building structures are not designed to
  • a fuel pool takes time to reach boiling point
  • some of the 26 reactor sites have recently refueled, so they have hot fuel rods in their fuel pools and could reach boiling point within a couple of days
  • it is likely that off-site power will be lost at quite a few of the 26 sites
  • the chance of a diesel generator failing is less than 1 in 100
  • so a plant with two generators has a 1 in 10,000 chance of both diesel generators failing

    The Fukushima reactors and fuel pools are still dangerous
  • there was a very important report from Japan regarding the radiation in the Pacific Ocean
  • Bentic organisms that live on the bottom of the ocean floor are not seeing a decline in the amount of radiation
  • so the message is that the fish in Japan are still contaminated
  • the other, more important conclusion is that radiation must still be leaking into the ocean
  • TEPCO is building a wall into the ocean 100 feet deep to prevent leakage into the idea, but that will not be completed until 2014
  • the fuel pool will not be completed until 2015
  • this is the worst nuclear leak into the ocean in history and continues to leak into the ocean
  • assuming that there is no further damage from earthquakes or storms, water management will eventually become a problem
  • a football field sized waste water storage area is rapidly filling up

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